Who Can Afford to Eat Organic? Maybe You! (Part 4-Got Organic Milk?)
If you have followed the previous posts on this topic you are probably waiting for more detailed information about how we changed to eating mostly organic or “healthy” food while keeping our food budget at the USDA “thrifty “ level. I hope you aren’t going to be disappointed when I tell you that we use the same strategies to save money on organic food that we use to save money on non-organic food; you know, shopping the specials, buying in bulk, buying generics, buying in season, eliminating food waste, stocking up on sale items.
You are probably using these same strategies now, but organic food hasn’t been on your radar. I think you’ll be amazed at how you can save when you apply those same strategies to shopping for organic food. A lot has been written on each of these strategies so I’ll try to give you my unique perspectives along with some actual examples of local (KC Metro) milk prices.
On a side note, two things we rarely do to save money are price matching and using coupons. Have you ever noticed that most coupons are for processed foods? I find an occasional coupon for eggs, organic sugar or batteries. Since we are phasing out of most name brand cleaning products, big name personal care products full of chemicals we don’t want, there aren’t many coupons for things we use. You can find coupons online for some organic foods but they are mostly processed organic foods, better than non-organic but you will save so much more by making it yourself.
I also rarely take advantage of price matching. I don’t think it’s wrong if you do, it does save time. I believe that the store running the special is the one that should be rewarded with my business. I want their specials to be very successful so they will offer them again or offer something similar. Your purchasing decisions are more powerful than you know. I do shop at Walmart but I mostly shop smaller stores like Trader Joe’s, Sprouts, Natural Grocers and at the locally owned grocery stores that carry organic food. I like to spread the love around. Almost all stores have organic food choices now in our area. I recently spotted organic milk at Quick Trip (gas station convenience store)!
Let’s look at milk as an example and see what prices are at different stores. I didn’t get every brand at every store but I believe this is representative. All these prices were noted during a two week period in the Kansas City metro area.
Price for ½ gallon of organic milk
|Brand||Hy-Vee||Sprouts||Walmart||Natural Grocers||Price Chopper||Whole foods||Notes|
|Organic Valley||3.99*||3.29 * or 4.49||3.65||3.79||*sale|
|Organic Valley||4.19||grass fed|
Trader Joe’s brand organic milk was $3.99 for a half gallon. I tried to get the regular price of Horizon milk on another trip to Sprouts but they were completely out of that brand organic milk (except omega 3 version).
I learned a lot from this exercise. Unlike non-organic milk, most organic milk prices are the same weather it is whole, 2% or skim. I did not know that there was such a thing as milk from 100% grass fed cows but I found two brands: Organic Valley (they also have milk that is not 100% grass fed) and Kolana. This milk costs more but not more than some non-grass fed brands. I had assumed generic milk at Walmart would be the best price but I was pleasantly surprised to find a much better option at Whole foods. You know organic foods are going mainstream when there are generic or store brand versions. “Clearly Organic” is the organic equivalent of “Best Choice”, but they clearly don’t have the best price-almost $2 more than the 365 brand at Whole Foods.
To save money on organic food, it pays to know where the best prices are. This is no different from shopping non-organic. You use the best strategies that you can, given your time, energy and circumstances. You prioritize the most important foods to buy organic (we’ll talk about that more in the future) and do the best you can.
By the way, the Heritage brand organic milk at the Quick Trip gas station was $4.59 for a half gallon, just $.10 more than the same milk at the Price Chopper one block away. Who knew?
Where have you found good prices on organic milk?